Emmanuel Kallonga

Ashoka Fellow
Illustration of a person's face depicting a fellow
Fellow Since 2008
Cette description du travail de Emmanuel Kallonga a été rédigée lors de sa sélection comme Fellow Ashoka en 2008


Emmanuel Kallonga is educating Tanzanian citizens about laws and public policies that affect their livelihoods and well-being, and equipping them with the skills needed to constructively engage with other stakeholders to secure their social and economic rights. Emmanuel is building effective community-based initiatives to combat corruption and expose new economic opportunities afforded by government poverty alleviation policies.

L'idée nouvelle

Emmanuel believes to successfully build effective democratic governance, fight corruption, and alleviate poverty through governmental initiatives is possible when the relevant laws, policies, and programs are understood by the public, and marginalized groups in particular. He is therefore equipping Tanzanian citizens with “plain language guides” that explain complex laws and policy documents in a user-friendly way, with tools to track the use of public resources earmarked for development efforts at the community level, and measure the effectiveness of various government-sponsored programs. He is also assisting citizens to organize effective community- and village-level action groups to take full advantage of livelihood opportunities associated with governmental initiatives. Emmanuel’s public education model is addressing the gap between complex government policy documents and the communities they are meant to serve. He collects information on the most pressing policies that need to be simplified. These are identified through an intelligence network of community-based experts and volunteers Emmanuel has built across Tanzania. A strong team of policy analysts then “repackages complex government policies and puts them in simple, straightforward guides in locally accessible languages, with illustrative cartoons to help readers identify policies, programs, and livelihood opportunities relevant to them. The publications Emmanuel and his team produce are distributed all over Tanzania through a network of information access points, citizen organizations (COs), media companies, and institutions working at the national and community levels. Emmanuel founded Hakikazi Catalyst in 2000 to implement his idea, is directly engaged in program activities utilizing its guides in seventy-one villages in the Arusha and Manyara regions of Tanzania. Hakikazi has also forged strong partnerships with eighty local COs (including faith-based groups) and is helping them to develop their capacities to introduce economic and social justice initiatives in the communities they work.

Le problème

Government-sponsored and independent studies indicate that Tanzania has a high (70 percent) literacy rate, but disappointingly, few have an informed awareness or working knowledge of development policies and “anti-poverty initiatives” that affect their lives and livelihood opportunities. While Country Director for Oxfam in Tanzania, Emmanuel became increasing aware that many laws, public policies, and governmental initiatives are not understood by those they are designed to serve for the simple reason that they are not distributed in an accessible form. More often than not government policies aimed at stimulating economic development and poverty reduction are published in several volumes and densely packed with highly complex, technical language. Since these texts are not accessible to the public, it is nearly impossible for ordinary citizens to participate in democratic processes or for communities to make full and effective use of the opportunities and resources that governmental initiatives provide.

In rural areas, home to 70 percent of Tanzanians, education, health, and economic development services are in particularly short supply, and the knowledge gap that concerns Emmanuel, is evident. The lack of public understanding about laws, development strategies, and public expenditure patterns is also an important factor to corruption at all levels of government, especially the community level. Unfortunately, most recent attempts to limit corruption have focused on high-level government officials, while the role of communities to keep political leaders accountable, has been neglected. As the development of effective bottom-up programs to address corruption has been limited, there is a lack of awareness at the community level about the misuse of resources allocated to address their needs.

The costly consequences of this knowledge gap are best illustrated by two cases in 2000. During the early months the government of Tanzania published—in seventeen volumes—a new policy to clarify issues relating to land tenure, protect land owners, and address previous gaps in the policy. In October the same year, the government published a Poverty Reduction Strategy paper that set forth an ambitious plan to drastically reduce levels of poverty across the country. The policy paper, which outlined a number of funding opportunities for community development funding, was distributed through local government structures, with the expectation—or hope—that local officials would digest and disseminate the information to their constituencies. However, in each case, the form enunciating the policies was much too complicated, even for mid- and high-level government officials to comprehend, and most Tanzanians remained unaware of the laws and policies designed to protect them and advance their social and economic development. As a result, communities were disempowered in two respects—they were denied the possibility to hold local officials accountable for development funds allocated to their communities, and deprived of required information to effectively advocate for resources to address their most pressing needs.

La stratégie

Drawing on his severance benefits from Oxfam, Emmanuel founded Hakikazi Catalyst to help poor farmers, women, and other marginalized and impoverished persons understand laws and public policies relevant to their needs and enable them to identify and exploit the economic development and livelihood generating opportunities associated with those laws and policies. With one staff member in a small shared office, Emmanuel quickly formed an informal a network of “Friends of Hakikazi” that helped to identify laws, policies, and policy documents of particular importance to poor and marginalized groups. A small group of policy analysts “demystify” the complex and technical language of those laws and documents and re-writes the relevant information in simple, user-friendly texts that are comprehensible to those with a limited education. To capture the interest of the target audience, he employs cartoonists to illustrate key points with pictures to help readers better understand. When initial drafts of the “plain language guides” are ready, he engages a small group of policy experts with relevant public service and citizen sector backgrounds to serve as peer reviewers and assure that the final guide versions are true to the letter and the spirit of the laws and policies they have summarized. When semi-final drafts are completed, he sends them to communities for a trial use and gathers feedback about how to improve them.

The result is a rapidly growing series of forty+ documents that address a broad range of economic and social rights and issues of salience for poor communities. Early documents in the series focus on the Land Tenure Law and the Poverty Reduction Strategy promulgated in 2000, and a recent 43-page publication entitled, Poor Peoples’ Wealth (the English version). This offers a “plain language” presentation of the Tanzanian Government’s Mkurabita initiative, the Property and Business Formalization Program, designed to empower the marginalized in the informal sector to better use their property and business assets to take advantage of opportunities in the modern market economy.

Emmanuel has developed a set of strategies to ensure Hakikazi’s plain language guides and related pamphlets and posters reach their target audiences all over the country. With that aim, he distributes copies to any CO, governmental body, or individual that makes a request. (Today 300 organizations are on his mailing list.) In addition, he has identified a growing number (now more than 1,500) “access points” across the country where Hakikazi publications are available to community leaders and other readers. (In 2001 he entered a partnership with a private sector company that markets baking flour to transport Hakikazi publications though its distribution network; it spans the country.) For wider usage of Hakikazi’s publications, Emmanuel has adopted a policy of “relinquishing control” over usage rights, with the (intended) outcome that any organization, large or small, faith-based or secular, can use (or even brand) Hakikazi’s guides and other materials however it chooses. Hakikazi has also partnered with a national newspaper to serialize publications relating to economic development and livelihood generation, and with community radio stations across the country to air Hakikazi publications principal messages. (Radio journalists employed by partner stations contribute to Hakikazi’s publication program by gathering feedback from their listeners and sharing it with Hakikazi’s fourteen-member staff.)

Not satisfied with simply making information available to targeted communities, Emmanuel also works proactively to ensure that Hakikazi produced materials are widely distributed to effect action at the community level. Accordingly, he and his colleagues have stimulated the formation of a rapidly growing number of Centres for Development, Learning and Action Programmes (CEDLAs), in which community members examine Hakikazi’s publications with the aim to develop and implement an “action agenda” to improve their communities. There are more than thirty CEDLAs in Arusha City alone, and local government structures have recognized CEDLAs as key participants in the development process and often host CEDLA gatherings. Every month Hakikazi conducts a seminar for CEDLA leaders and organizes an annual gathering of CEDLA representatives to examine important and timely development issues. In addition, Hakikazi provides technical (though not financial) assistance to eight credit societies and more than fifteen marketing advocacy groups that have emerged from the CEDLA process.

Hakikazi is a principal East African node for the Washington, D.C. based International Budget Project, and Emmanuel’s heightened awareness of the centrality of the budget process and public expenditures in efforts to stimulate economic growth, combat corruption, and promote more effective democratic governance has resulted in a new Hakikazi initiative to track government budgets and the performance of local governmental structures. As part of that initiative, Hakikazi produced a manual, Follow the Money, to track public expenditures and has distributed multiple copies to 300 COs across Tanzania. Emmanuel is developing a new set of tools called Pima Cards for use by citizens to evaluate any governmental policy and development initiative of their choice, with the long-term aim of promoting a more citizen-driven development process.

La personne

When Emmanuel was five years old, his father died and he, his mother, and his two siblings were left with little more than the small family farm. Within a few years, however, the farm was confiscated by Emmanuel’s late father’s elder brother, and the young family moved to the outskirts of Dar es Salaam, where Emmanuel’s mother worked as a maid for a European family. When Emmanuel was eight-years-old, Tanzania was formed (a union of two states, Tanganyika and Zanzibar, which achieved independence), and many Europeans, including his mother’s employers, left the country.

Fortunately, Emmanuel’s mother was able to secure a small, quarter-acre plot, but times were difficult and his mother struggled to provide for the family. While Emmanuel was in primary school, the area where they lived was becoming increasingly urbanized, and powerful people from Dar es Salaam were routinely buying land and evicting tenants. Emmanuel’s mother was illiterate and unable to fight for her rights, so by the time Emmanuel started secondary school (with a scholarship from the local church), his mother’s plot had been reduced to a forty-by-forty meters patch of land.

Emmanuel excelled in secondary school, and after graduating in 1975, he was placed—for a mandatory year of public service—in the Prime Minister’s office, where he served as a statistical assistant in the department of planning. Emmanuel worked in the Prime Minister’s office for thirteen years, all the while being promoted and earning a certificate from the Institute of Rural Development Planning in Tanzania, an advanced diploma from the Institute of Development Management, also in Tanzania, and in 1989, a Master’s degree in Development Planning from the Institute of Social Studies in the Hague.

In early 1992, Emmanuel served as an advisor to the Prime Minister, but decided to leave government service because he felt he wasn’t sufficiently engaged in addressing the compelling needs of less privileged and marginalized citizens. Later, he was employed by Oxfam GB to develop a youth movement in northwestern Tanzania, and in 1996 he was appointed Oxfam’s Country Director in Tanzania. In 2000 he resigned from Oxfam to devote his full energies to helping marginalized people understand—and realize—their economic, social, and political rights.